The 2010 edition of the San Diego Comic Con International exploded on the scene July 22nd, as colorful and spectacular as the nightly fireworks display over the city’s Sea World park, threatening to burst the fortress-like walls of the San Diego convention center as over 126,000 fans packed the building and Famous Monsters of Filmland was there in the heat of the action!
Little could Comic Con founder Shel Dorf have imagined that the convention would grow to such monstrous proportions when he organized “The Golden State Comic Con” in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel back in 1970. Comic books are still the heart and soul of Comic Con, but over the years as the convention has grown, it has embraced related media like magazines, toys and Hollywood, itself, where the studios roll out news about their big, upcoming titles. And the late, founding Editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine Forrest J Ackerman would have undoubtedly been proud to see and hear about the re-birth of his beloved periodical, and the fact that news of future plans for the FM brand vied for fan excitement, on par with the excitement generated by things like the announcement of the final cast of the AVENGERS movie!
NO REST FOR THE FM TEAM
Fresh and invigorated from their own Famous Monsters Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana a short two weeks earlier, the FM crew, led by Publisher/Owner Philip Kim, Editor-In-Chief Michael Heisler, and Editor Jessie Lilley, collectively and tirelessly spoke with thousands of fans that visited the FM booth over the five day event.
FAMOUS MONSTERS IS BACK—BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER
Fans eagerly approached the FM booth and picked up copies of Famous Monsters numbers 250, the special tribute issue to Forrest J Ackerman, and 251, the official re-launch issue. Comic Con was the only place readers could get all of the fabulous variant covers under one roof if they wished. Eyes popped and jaws dropped as fans who remembered the magazine from their childhood approached the FM booth, recognizing the famous Famous Monsters logo. All had stories and fond reminiscences to share of which issue was their first, found at their respective local drug store magazine racks. Fans who are now parents delightfully showed the new Famous Monsters off to their children, introducing a whole new generation to their favorite monster mag. Famous Monsters and it’s fans may have grown up, but the child within has remained very much alive!
As magazines, posters, t-shirts and FM-branded apparel flew off the tables and shelves, the FM booth was visited by many stars and celebrities through-out the convention. Longtime fans of every stripe in entertainment, like writer-director Frank Darabont, wrestler Jerry Lawler, actor D.B. Sweeney and many other stopped by to wish the new venture and re-launch well. Lucky fans could have Bela Lugosi, Jr. or FM cover artist William Stout autograph their magazines or prints of FM covers for free.
BEYOND THE PAGES OF FM: THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
But the big news concerning Famous Monsters could hardly be contained as rumor swirled to such a degree that Harry Knowles (of Ain’t It Cool News) had to blurt out an announcement at the Expendables panel he moderated on Thursday, just moments before introducing stars Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis to avid action fans: that he, himself, the one-and-only Harry Knowles, has become Editor-In-Chief of the Famous Monsters of Filmland website! The agreement between Knowles and FM publisher Philip Kim was signed at the FM booth earlier in the day, creating a memorable historic moment for fans present to witness it. Although it’s too early to reveal details about the FM website under Knowles editorship, expect on all-new Harry Knowles, very different from the one we’ve come to know and love at Ain’t It Cool News. As Knowles himself wrote at his site recently, “What you’ll see is a lot of Passion for the classics…To create a place for Families, Kids and Geeks like us (to) share a loving passion for the fantastic odd things that make us all the nieces and nephews of FJA (Forrest J Ackerman).”
(left to right) FM website Editor-In-Chief Harry Knowles, Philip Kim.
The news of Knowles stewardship of the Famous Monsters website (to be launched in October, coinciding with Fantastic Fest) was elaborated upon during the FM panel discussion on Friday afternoon.
The FM panel, moderated by yours truly, included the FM team of Philip Kim, Michael Heisler and Jessie Lilley and special guests Bela Lugosi, Jr., artist William Stout, film producer Ted Chalmers, and filmmaker Joe Moe.
Editor-In-Chief Michael Heisler revealed the fabulous cover art for upcoming issues 252 and 253, respectively, and teased the audience with hints of the rich content to come. A rousing discussion with future website editor Harry Knowles ensued, with talk of the synergy and relationship that the website will have with the print magazine. Again, no detailed plans were revealed as all is “top secret” at the moment, but the relief of finally being able to talk about the FM website after months of negotiations was palpable and felt by all on the panel.
The connection to FM’s past was touched on with humor and reverence when FM’s unofficial Ambassador of classic horror, Bela Lugosi, Jr. spoke, along with long-time Forry Ackerman friend and caretaker Joe Moe, sharing stories with the audience and speaking of their unwavering support of the new Famous Monsters of Filmland.
As the brief hour allotted to the panel discussion sped by, FM owner Philip Kim was able to sketch some of the amazing future plans, which include (beyond the new website in October) other manifestations of FM in New Media, including the possibilities of web-based video content and a host of other FM-related projects still on the drawing table.
(left to right) Mark Redfield and Frank Darabont at the Famous Monsters booth at Comic Con.
Famous Monsters of Filmland is back, and the future looks bright indeed for all fans of the fantastic, both in print, on the internet, and in the world of filmed media, both traditional and new.
Had Forrest J Ackerman lived to see this amazing revival of one of the most important aspects of his life’s work come this far, and reach even farther into the immediate future, I think he’d be very proud. Speaking for myself and the rest of the FM team, we’re extremely proud to continue to serve, and to keep the legacy alive for fellow fans, and for the new fans just discovering all things Famous Monsters.
San Diego, 2010
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FAMOUS MONSTERS COMIC CON PANEL HERE!